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How to Get Your Broken-Down Car Safely off the Road

car accident

A broken-down car is not only a problem for the driver; it can also dangerously impact other drivers if the car is left on the road. By all means, attempt to move it to the side of the road and away from traffic. If you cannot, the following steps should be taken.

1. Remain With the Vehicle

If possible, always attempt to move your vehicle to the side of the road following a breakdown or an accident. Head to the shoulder and then move as far to the right as possible. But if your car is immobile, then call 911 and remain buckled inside your vehicle until help arrives. Turn the vehicle off, especially if you have been in an accident.

fender bender 2. Warn Oncoming Traffic

Always activate the hazard lights to warn people approaching your vehicle that you’re in distress. If you have a white or bright cloth with you, fasten it to the outside of your car, facing traffic, to signal that you need help. Arranging a few traffic cones around the vehicle is also a good idea if you have some in your trunk. The additional warning can prove extremely helpful in low-visibility settings such as fog or nighttime driving.

3. Enlist the Help of Other Drivers

Typically, you don’t want to flag down other drivers while stuck in the middle of the road. Drivers may not be able to react in time and could hit you or your car. That said, if another driver has flares or warning triangles to place in the road, then utilize them. You might also ask a bystander to walk farther up the side of the road and away from your vehicle to warn other drivers with a flare or a flag.

4. Keep Calm

While awaiting help, keep calm. This is especially important if others are in the car with you. If someone is hurt, share that information with 911. Never move an injured person unless they are in more danger if they are not moved. If there is a wound, apply direct pressure with a cloth or sterile dressing. If there is a foreign object in the wound, do not try to remove it. If an individual is not breathing and you’re trained in CPR, then begin CPR with compressions. Keep performing CPR until a trained responder arrives and takes over.

As soon as help arrives, your broken-down car will be towed away from the scene. If you were in an accident, obtain and record critical information, including the names of other drivers and passengers; license plate numbers; insurance information; the year, make and model of other vehicles; the location of the accident; and the name and badge number of the reporting officer. If you have a camera or a smartphone, take pictures of the scene. This information will come in handy when filing an insurance claim.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to get a broken-down car to safety, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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